The woman who was allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwe’s First Lady‚ Grace Mugabe‚ was offered a blank cheque to make the matter go away.
This was revealed at a media conference on Thursday at AfriForum’s offices in Centurion at which the alleged victim‚ Gabriella Engels‚ and her mother‚ Debbie‚ were present.
“There wasn’t an amount offered to them (the Engels family). The indication was: come up with a figure‚” AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said.
Caty van der Merwe from AfriForum’s Trauma Unit said Engels was not directly threatened if she did not accept the offer.
“She is living in fear actually to go out into the public now. The family is living in fear for what might happen.”
Debbie Engels thanked AfriForum for their help.
“At least now I can sleep a little more peaceful knowing I have people in my corner that is gonna help me fight to get justice for my daughter.”
Gabriella‚ whose eyes were red and damp‚ chose not to address the media.
She sported a big bandage on her forehead and maintained a sombre facial expression.
AfriForum approached 20-year-old Gabriella to offer her legal support and counselling after she was allegedly assaulted by Mugabe on Sunday night with an electrical extension cord at a luxury hotel in Sandton‚ Johannesburg‚ where Mugabe’s two sons were thought to be staying.
Kriel and private prosecutor Gerrie Nel answered various questions on a third party‚ but did not disclose the person’s identity.
Nel said: “We’ve agreed with Gabriella not to disclose any details about who she is‚ what she is doing at the moment‚ because she will be a witness. Those facts will come out in court.”
Gabriella on Monday opened a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at the Sandton police station‚ and Mugabe was widely thought to be appearing in court on Tuesday. But by the close of business on Tuesday she hadn’t been arrested or handed herself over to the police.
Nel said they were confident in the police and the NPA‚ but would seek a private prosecution if nothing happened in the next three months.
“No one‚ not even Mrs Grace Mugabe‚ must be allowed to bypass the law as a result of their position of power.”
Nel said the investigating officer contacted Gabriella on Thursday morning and said the police planned to issue a warrant for Grace’s arrest.
AfriForum legal representative Willie Spies said in a letter to Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane that Mugabe should not be granted diplomatic immunity‚ because she committed a “grave crime” according to Section 2(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 37 of 2001.
They reminded Nkoana-Mashabane of Section 6 of the Foreign States Immunities Act 87 of 1987 that a foreign head of state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of South African courts when someone has been injured.
Spies said they will approach the court if Mugabe is granted immunity‚ because they believe her claim she was accompanying her husband Robert to a SADC summit in South Africa was an “afterthought”.